Bullwinkle J. Moose wrote:
Dave, I forget, which is the Tories, and who's the Whigs...
When the English civil wars took place in the 1640's, the Irish broke away for a decade and set up their own parliament. Royalists who opposed both an independent Ireland and the English Parliament which was fighting King Charles in the civil wars (they were supporters of the King) hid out in the hills and mountain passes and waylaid anyone whom they judged were not of their party. The word Tory comes from the old Irish word for robber.
The Whigs got their name a little more obscurely. King Charles and his crony Bishop Laud attempted to force the Anglican Church and the Book of Common Prayer on the Scots, which proved a disaster for Charles (he got his butt kicked) who called a parliament to raise a new army, and ended up with a civil war instead. The Scots formed the Covenant to protect their national church, the Kirk (which is now the Presbyterians). But in that perverse way the Scots have, when King Charles was getting his butt kicked by Parliament (his military record was dismal), there was a faction of the Covenanters who made an agreement with Charles to fight Parliament, because Charles was, after all, a Stuart and the King of Scotland, too. These Convenanters were known as the Engagers, because their agreement was known in the language of the day as an engagement. Oliver Cromwell handed the Engagers their ass at the battle of Preston in 1648 (a meeting engagement, it has some interest to military historians). After that, the Covenanters who were opposed to the Engagement marched on Edinburgh to re-establish the Kirk and their government--they had been opposed to the Engagement because Charles would not agree to the Covenant. These Covenanter rebels were known as whiggamors
, which in the language of the Scots means a cattle driver, because, it is alleged, they originally assembled by pretending to drive their cattle to market, and then joining other Covenanters in the nighttime--i can't say if that is true.
Whatever the case, in 1685, the son of King Charles, King Charles II died, leaving his brother, James, Duke of York, to become the new King. James II (his grandfather was King James I, the homosexual religious fanatic who commissioned a new translation of the bible) was unapologetically Catholic, but at first, people were not worried, since his two daughters, Mary and Anne, were Protestant, but in 1687, his wife who had always previously miscarried produced a healthy son. The English Protestants were outraged (and suspicious, the son became known as the warming pan baby because it was alleged that the Queen had miscarried again, but that a baby had been smuggled into the room in a warming pan--modern medical opinion is that the son was legitimate, though), and in 1688, William of Orange landed with his wife Mary, James' oldest daughter, and James had to get out of dodge. (More chicanery--William of Orange was the son of William II of Orange and Mary Stuart, the sister of Charles and James, and the daughter of King Charles I--William III of Orange married his first cousin, Mary Stuart, the daughter of James, Duke of York--the rules for European royals were different than those for mere peasants.) The English Protestants who opposed James were called Whigs in remembrance of the Scots Protestant Covenanters who had marched on Edinburgh. The term came to be generally understood to be conservative capitalist interests who supported Parliament over the power of the King. It was the general sense of conservative capitalists which lead to the use of the name Whig for an American political party.
Those who continued to support the authority of the King (divine right as some alleged--a silly idea started by the gay boy, James I, who succeeded Queen Elizabeth when she died in 1603) were derisively called Tories--and as those things tend to go, like sneering at the Calvinists by calling the Puritans, they took the name as a badge of honor. The Tories became identified with conservative supporters of the monarchy. Ironically, in the mid-19th century, it was "progressive" Tories like Lord Robert Peel (started the Metropolitan Police, known ever after as Bobbies in London, and Peelers in Ireland and Australia) and Lord Charles Canning who introduced most of the measures of reform in England.
Basically, as is the case in the United States, there were no leftists, just different flavors of conservatives.
But to simplify things--Tories (conservatives) are robbers, and Whigs ("liberals") are cowboys.